Sahara: Gabon Reaffirms Support for Autonomy Plan, Calls for Resumption of Roundtable Process

Gabon reaffirmed, before the United Nations Committee of 24 (C-24), its support for the Moroccan Autonomy plan which offers “credible and reassuring” prospects to end the regional dispute over the Sahara. “Gabon welcomes and encourages the Moroccan Autonomy initiative for it presents credible and reassuring prospects allowing not only to end the current political deadlock, but also to reach an acceptable and negotiated political solution” to the regional conflict, the representative of Gabon, Rita Nanette Kambangoye Ankassa, told the C-24 Annual meeting in New York. She noted that more than a hundred countries have expressed their support for the settlement of the dispute proposed by the Kingdom, noting that the Moroccan plan enjoys strong international support, including that of the Security Council whose Successive resolutions have always stressed the credibility of the Autonomy initiative. The Gabonese diplomat also hailed the efforts made by the Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary-General to the Sahara, Staffan de Mistura, who “works incessantly for the relaunch of the political process under the exclusive auspices of the United Nations”. “His commitment to the success of his mission stands out through the visits he made in 2022 to Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Tindouf camps, as well as through the informal bilateral consultations he held last March,” she said. She pointed out that this diplomatic dynamic is an “encouraging sign” which calls for the resumption of the roundtable process with the four participants: Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the “polisario”, inviting all the parties to commit throughout this process, in a spirit of compromise, with a view to reaching a political solution to the regional dispute over the Moroccan Sahara, as recommended by Security Council resolutions. The representative of Gabon also underlined the positive evolution of the situation on the ground, noting that at the political level, representatives of the Moroccan Sahara, democratically re-elected in the September 2021 elections, now participate in the various C-24 regional seminars. “This is a significant fact that deserves to be highlighted,” she insisted. On the social and economic level, Morocco is exerting permanent efforts to improve the living conditions of the populations of the Southern provinces, she further indicated, pointing out that the New development model for these provinces, launched in 2015, had a strong upward impact on the human development indices in this region. “Obviously, this social and economic progress strengthens international cooperation in the region”, while nearly thirty countries, from all regions of the world, have opened consulates general in Laayoune and Dakhla. “I am delighted that my country Gabon is part of this” dynamic, she said. Referring to human rights, the representative of Gabon hailed Morocco’s “substantial” achievements in this field, citing the strengthening of the role of the regional commissions of the National Human Rights Council in Laayoune and Dakhla and the bilateral cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Treaty bodies and special procedures of the Human Rights Council. “These efforts have been welcomed by Security Council resolutions, mainly resolution 2654”, she recalled. The diplomat also commended Morocco’s continued respect of the ceasefire and its cooperation with MINURSO, calling on all other parties to follow suit in the interest of the security and stability of the whole region. She also stressed that her country remains “concerned” about the situation of the populations in the Tindouf camps, in particular women and children, believing that respect for their fundamental rights is a requirement that must not be forgotten.